Honeybees are disappearing

4 out of 6 bee colonies, that I had, collapsed within the last month. And it is not even a winter yet. It seemed to be that the bees immune systems are being compromised and they can't fight moths (that lay eggs into honeycombs and their larva devours everything) and other illnesses.

More disturbing info re the loss of honeybees:


Who Is Deliberately Killing the Bees…and Why?
by Cat Ellis

Last night, my husband attended our beekeeping association meeting. He was looking forward to it all day. Talking with other “bee people” is exciting, chatting about the upcoming spring, opening up the hives after winter, installing new bees, etc. I couldn’t wait for him to come home to with new beekeeping ideas and to see his face light up as he waxed poetic about beekeeping.

Only, that didn’t happen. Instead, he brought back a story that chilled me to my bones about someone deliberately killing the bees just a few towns away from us in Rehoboth, MA.

Just Another Accidental Spraying?

We read about the bee deaths when it happened. Early reports seemed to suggest this was yet another case of farmers in the vicinity being irresponsible with chemicals. That may have been what investigators originally suspected, as hypothesized by Eric Pilotte, the president of the Bristol County Beekeepers Association. In this interview, Pilotte spoke of how bees can forage up to three miles away and may have brought back poisoned pollen and nectar to the hive.

“All indications are it was some type of pesticide or insecticide that’s the culprit,” Pilotte said. “In this case, they were able to bring back some of those contaminants and I think that’s what spread like wildfire through the hive.”

Fellow association member, entomologist and retired superintendent of the Bristol County Mosquito Control Project, Wayne Andrews, thought it had to have happened “closer to home“.

Andrews said bees can fly as far as three or four miles in search of food and water but he suspects the Rehoboth bees consumed the poison closer to home, likely no more than a mile away.

In another article on this bee killing, the state was called in to investigate.

Andrews, a beekeeper for four decades who has had his own hives killed by neighbors spraying, called in the state Department of Agricultural Resources, which sent an inspector Friday morning who took samples to test for pesticides.

But, that is where the news reports ended. As far as we knew, it was probably a neighboring farmer spraying, the state was going to investigate, and the story is out of the media.

What the News Didn’t Cover

Last night’s meeting was all “a-buzz” (ok, that was bad) with what the news did not report. There was no follow-up to make sure it really was just a farmer spraying recklessly, and not something else more sinister.

It turns out, that when the state investigated and got the lab results back, things were not as expected. Instead of giving the beekeeper the results over the phone, an in-person meeting was held where authorities had to ask him the uncomfortable question, “Do you have any enemies?”

Lab results came back so high for the active ingredient in Frontline (fipronil), that it had to be a case of someone deliberately killing the bees.

Who even does that? In a day and age where bees are threatened by agricultural chemicals linked to Colony Collapse Disorder and from pests like the varroa mite, why would anyone intentionally destroy thousands of bees?

Out of Town Trucks and Backpack Sprayers

Here is where things get weird.

At the meeting, reports surfaced of multiple pickup trucks with out-of-state license plates being seen in and around town around the time this bee-killing happened. None of these trucks had signage or company logos, so who knows who hired them.

The men driving them were observed together at a local diner/coffee shop. They would meet there, eat, and then go about their days. In a small town like this, you know almost everyone. They were not known by anyone.

There were backpack sprayers seen in the beds of the trucks.

It’s not exactly like Rehoboth, MA is a travel hub providing a convenient stopping off point for other destinations. Rehoboth is off the beaten path. It’s a rural/suburban town with loads of small, family farms. Most of them grow corn, which is regularly sprayed with imidacloprid. Imidacloprid is a type of neonicotinoid. Neonicotinoids are believed to be linked, if not the cause, of Colony Collapse Disorder. Both neonicotinoids and fipronil do systemic damage to bees and butterflies.

How much of a coincidence is it that these out-of-state vehicles with backpack sprayers were seen in this sleepy town right before the bee kills? Might they have been spraying fipronil? If so, for who? And why?

It’s conceivable. Fipronil is marketed to kill fleas and ticks. New England is tick country. Some of the farms may have hired workers to spray their properties to cut down on ticks. But, the lab results indicated the concentration of fipronil was too high to be accidental.

Who were they? Who hired them? What were they supposed to spray? Could they have sprayed for ticks, and wandered onto the beekeeper’s property? Or were they directed to spray the hives specifically by a neighbor who is afraid of bees?

We still don’t know, and probably never will.

But This Isn’t the Only Case of Bee Hive Vandalism

As a beekeeper, reports of vandals destroying beehives always cuts me to the core. Not only is there a huge loss of bee-life, but there is a loss of income as well. Insurance companies do not offer beehive insurance, and beekeeping families take the financial hit.

Two cases of bee-yard vandalism have made headlines just this past month. The first, in Iowa, two teenage boys were charged with toppling over an entire bee-yard worth of hives, killing a half a million bees. These thoughtless teens nearly destroyed Justin and Tori Engleheart’s apiary business, Wild Hill Honey. Thankfully, their local community set up a GoFundMe campaign to save their family business.

The second case was in California. Over 200,000 bees were killed while wintering-over in Prunedale, CA. Someone entered Mike Hickenbottom’s property and tipped over each of 100 hives. Then, this person or persons poured diesel fuel on the hives and lit them on fire. The bees belonged to beekeeper Alfonzo Perez. He provides hives for pollination services to almond tree farms. With a new baby on the way, Perez will be missing a large chunk of his family’s income.

This case bothers me. For someone to go to the length of dousing the hives with fuel and then burning them, this wasn’t just an average case of vandalism. It is most definitely criminal. There is no mistaking this attack was intentional. In that way, it reminds me of the Rehoboth case.

The Rehoboth case didn’t make national news. The Prunedale case barely made the news. I have to wonder how many more stories of beekeeping vandalism and people deliberately killing the bees are going on around the US that we don’t know about.

Why Is This Important?

Preppers talk about food shortages and being ready for economic collapse or a societal collapse. A bee collapse would bring the entire system to its knees.

Honeybees are not native to the United States. Colonists brought bees over when they settled these lands. And we still depend upon honeybees to pollinate our food.

If bees were to fail below a critical level, and farms did not get pollination services, we would see a dramatic decrease in our produce, grains, nuts, and meats (since they come from livestock fed a diet predominantly of grains). You can bet this would cause food prices to rise, as well as public panic and food shortages.

Otherwise, the alternative is hand pollination. Check out this town in China that has to hand pollinate their fruit trees. It’s possible but far less efficient. Nothing pollinates like a honeybee.


It could very well be a deliberate eradication of honeybees so that ordinary people will not be able to produce their own food - only toxic, GMO Crisper Big Ag 'food' pollinated by robot bees will exist.
Source: Dutch bee count creates a buzz, organisers surprised as 3,500 take part - DutchNews.nl

Dutch bee count creates a buzz, organizers surprised as 3,500 take part
April 23, 2018

Some 3,500 people took part in this weekend’s mass bee count in an effort to establish the health of the Netherlands’ bee population.

In total, the bee spotters recorded 36,000 bees, of which the honey bee was the most common [with over 12,000 counts]. The red mason bee (Osmia bicornis) came in second place and the bumble bee, or hommel in Dutch, was third.

‘We did not expect so many people to take part,’ Marchien de Ruiter, spokeswoman for the organizers, told broadcaster NOS (Dutch only). ‘It can be pretty tricky to count bees and separate the different types.’

Some 20 different species of bee can be spotted in Dutch gardens in April and May.

Given this was the first national bee count, it is difficult to say what the figures mean for the bee population. ‘We’ll only be able to spot trends after a few years,’ De Ruiter said.

The count was organized by a string of environmental organizations. There are almost 360 different species of bee in the Netherlands and half of them are threatened. Yet bees are responsible for pollinating 80% of the edible crops grown in the Netherlands.
Hi Palinurus,

Its heartening to see that sort of participation :-)

I remember a couple of years ago that Tasmania (as the last disease free pocket in Australia) was actually exporting live bees to the America's and Canada for a period, which is a sad state of affairs...

Source: Record number of participants for annual bee count; 128,000 bees counted

Record number of participants for annual bee count; 128,000 bees counted

By Janene Pieters on April 20, 2020 - 08:55


Honeybee - (lightpoet / DepositPhotos - DepositPhotos)

A record number of people participated in the Netherlands' National Bee Count this past weekend. Over 9,500 people together counted 128 thousand bees, considerably more than the some 5 thousand people who counted nearly 54 thousand bees last year, NOS reports [in Dutch].

The increase in participants can likely be attributed to the measures in place against the corona virus - more people were at home or had nothing else to do and therefore spent half an hour counting bees in their garden or on their balcony.

On average, 14 bees and hover flies were counted per garden or balcony. The honeybee was again the most spotted variety, with 51 thousand honeybees counted. The red mason bee came in second place with over 19 thousand observations.

The results of the last three National Bee Counts seem to indicate that bees aren't doing badly in the Netherlands' urban environment, Vincent Kalkman, entomologist at Naturalis, said to NOS. Though he added that counting must be done for around five consecutive years to clarify trends and exclude influences like the weather. Last year's cold weather during the counting weekend, for example, resulted in relatively many bumblebees counted.

Nearly 360 wild bee species live in the Netherlands and over half of them are threatened with extinction. 80 percent of edible crops are pollinated by bees and other insects. They also pollinate wild plants, ensuring food for birds and other species.
Source: Bee population steady in Dutch cities thanks to pollinator strategy

Bee population steady in Dutch cities thanks to pollinator strategy

Anne Pinto-Rodrigues - Tue 27 Apr 2021 12.52 BST

Scheme involving ‘ bee hotels’ and ‘bee stops’ reaps rewards as census shows no strong decline in urban population


A ‘bee hotel’ in a city park. The structures have helped urban bee populations to thrive by providing
cavities for solitary bees to nest.
Photograph: Sjoerd van der Hucht/Alamy

Bee hotels, bee stops and a honey highway are some of the techniques the Dutch are crediting with keeping their urban bee population steady in recent years, after a period of worrying decline.

Last week, more than 11,000 people from across the Netherlands participated in a bee-counting exercise as part of the fourth edition of the national bee census (in Dutch).

The enthusiastic volunteers, armed with a list depicting the most common bees (in Dutch) at this time of the year, spent 30 minutes in their gardens recording their apian visitors. At the close of data submission on Sunday 18 April, more than 200,000 bees and hoverflies had been counted.

The results – for urban bees at least – were steady. Vincent Kalkman, entomologist at Naturalis, one of the organisations behind the census, said: “An average of 18 to 20 bees and hoverflies were recorded in each garden during the count. These numbers have remained steady over the years, indicating that there is no strong decline in urban gardens.”

The census aims to collect five years’ of data before drawing definitive conclusions on bee population trends.


More than 11,000 people took part in the national bee survey.
Photograph: Martijn Beekman/Hollandse Hoogte

The honeybee (Apis mellifera) was the most spotted bee with more than 55,000 observations while the red mason bee (Osmia bicornis) and the earth bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) came in a distant second and third with about 13,000 and 12,800 records respectively. “The bee census is about gathering data but it is also serves to draw people’s attention to the different kinds of bees visiting their gardens,” said Kalkman. “It [the census] is also about education.”

With more than a quarter of the bees recorded in the 2021 census being honey bees, a species propped up by beekeeping, Kalkman is concerned they could be competing with wild bees for food.

“The increase in the number of beekeepers in cities could result in increased competition for food between honeybees and wild bees,” he said. “We need to work with beekeepers to increase food sources (flowers) for all bees.”

The native wild bee population in the Netherlands has been in decline since the 1940s, a trend that seems to stem predominantly from the agricultural areas of the country. Until 50 years ago, these areas had a myriad variety of wild flowers that sustained healthy bee populations. But the pressure on farmers for increased output, means farmlands no longer have space for nature. Large swathes of agricultural land are almost devoid of wild flowers, leading to the decline in bee numbers, a phenomenon compounded further by the use of harmful pesticides in agriculture.

“The economic importance of agricultural areas makes it difficult to change things there,” said Kalkman. More than half of the Netherlands’ 360 bee species are endangered (in Dutch).


A ‘bee hotel’ in Hennipgaarde in the Netherlands. Photograph: Andre Muller/Alamy

The Netherlands is the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural products, after the US. Recognising the crucial role played by wild bees in the pollination of food crops, especially fruit and vegetable plants, a national pollinator strategy was announced in 2018, to create increased opportunities for “bed and breakfast for bees”. The strategy. signed by 43 government and non-government partners. includes 70 initiatives aimed at creating more nesting sites for bees and strengthening their food supply, in the process enabling nature and agriculture to coexist.

Dutch cities have certainly been doing their bit. Amsterdam has been working on various bee-friendly initiatives that include putting up “bee hotels” (a collection of hollow plant stems or thin bamboo that provides cavities for solitary bees to nest), replacing grass in public spaces with native flowering plants, and stopping the use of chemical weed killers on public lands. Florinda Nieuwenhuis, an ecologist at the municipality of Amsterdam, reported in Ten years of Wild Bee Policy in Amsterdam (March 2021) (PDF-file in Dutch) that a 45% increase in the number of solitary bee species was recorded in the city in 2015, compared with a survey in 2000.

Utrecht has been building bee stops – bus stops with their roofs covered in native plants – that attract bees and absorb dust particles and rainwater. Since 2018, 316 bee stops have been installed.


A ‘bee stop’ in Utrecht. Green roofs of bus stops capture particulates, store rainwater and promote
urban biodiversity. All of these are beneficial for insects such as bees and butterflies.

Photograph: Courtesy of City of Utrecht

And Deborah Post has launched Honey Highway (Dutch only), an entrepreneurial venture that collaborates with municipalities to plant wildflowers in the space available on the sides of highways, railways, and waterways, thus ensuring food and shelter for bees.

In view of the rapid urbanisation in the Netherlands, Kalkman said: “The Dutch government aims at building hundreds of thousands of new homes in the coming years. So we have to think of ways in which we can preserve nature alongside the increasing number of cities.”
Source: About to get busier: Dutch scientists train bees to sniff out coronavirus - DutchNews.nl

About to get busier: Dutch scientists train bees to sniff out corona virus

May 6, 2021

Scientists have harnessed bees’ acute sense of smell to detect corona virus in a method that could be applied in developing countries lacking the necessary diagnostic tools, researchers at Wageningen University say.

The project, carried out by startup Insect Sense and Wageningen Bio-veterinary Research (WBVR), involved the conditioning of some 150 bees using the Pavlov method. Every time the bees were exposed to the virus, they were given sugar water as a reward.

Corona virus causes a metabolic change in the body which releases a certain smell which bees, and dogs, can pick up on because of their highly developed sense of smell. By repeating the action the bees associated the sugar water with the presence of the coronavirus smell and stuck out their tongues.

Training the bees only takes a few minutes, the scientists found, and it takes the bees just seconds to identify the smell.

The samples for the tests were initially taken from healthy and infected mink, resulting in very few false-negatives and false-positives, the researchers said. Subsequent tests using human samples yielded equally good results.

If the method can be successfully scaled up, bees could be trained to detect corona virus all over the world, the scientists hope. Insect Sense has already designed a prototype machine to train bees and a biosensor which uses the bees to diagnose the disease.

There is no danger the bees will spread the virus, professor Wim van der Poel told DutchNews.nl. ‘The bees are not sensitive to the virus and don’t come into direct contact with it during the trials.’

‘Bee Sense’, as the diagnostic system has been dubbed, could help developing countries which lack the infrastructure for diagnosis and have no access to state of the art technology.

Wageningen and Insect Sense are also working on the so-called LumiNose bio-chip technology, which uses insect odor receptors to detect the virus. Once perfected non-invasive, precise and cost-effective testing using this technology could be on the horizon, the scientists said.
In Sweden 2021

A pleasant observation; i have noticed a lot more bees’ being present this year in the suburbs of Stockholm.

In the last decade i barely saw any at all. Therefore i was surprised to see them back in business this year. Not as many as they used to be like on the 80s and from childhood memories in the 70s - but it is a clear uptick of bees this year, for the first time in a long time.
Source (Dutch only): Bijen gehavend uit wintertijd: ’Sterfte is meer dan gemiddeld’

De Telegraaf
Bees battered from winter: 'Mortality is above average'
Chris Ververs - 8 hours ago

Spring has burst forth. It is the time of flowers and bees. Although the latter remains to be seen. The bee is in a bad shape. Among beekeepers in Brabant there is even a mass mortality of bee colonies. Beekeeper Peter Raijmakers from Boekel lost thirty percent of his honey bees. The instigator: the mild, wet winter.

Always a special moment. When spring buds, beekeepers open their hives. The big question is: have the hives - and especially the queen - survived the winter months? The first signals that the Dutch Beekeepers Association (NBV) is receiving from the south are not very hopeful. "We hear from Brabant that there is above average bee mortality there," says NBV director Nadine Schalk.

Official figures, conclusions about mortality and possible causes have yet to be ascertained from the annual surveys of the bee association. Schalk: "From these we can officially determine excesses, but unofficially we hear of quite a lot of mortality from Brabant. "I myself am on the border between Brabant and Gelderland, but have no abnormal mortality this year: less than ten percent loss."

In a general sense, a mild winter - damp and mellow - in which bees remain little 'on hawser' is disastrous. While a hive in winter is normally only concerned with enduring the cold, at higher temperatures a colony will get busy, consume energy, and fly out. Because there is no food, the colony weakens itself.

'Strange winter time'

It is exactly what 74-year-old Raijmakers saw happening. The beekeeper has been keeping bees for forty years and has been president of 'Bijenvereniging Sint Ambrosius Boekel eo' for thirty years. "It's been a strange winter, because it was very warm. In mid-January I looked at my bee colonies and saw eggs and larvae. The queens have been laying eggs all winter and that is against nature. The queen is supposed to stop doing that in mid-December."

Raijmakers continues: "On top of that, it has been very humid. In a normal winter, bees already have to work a full bucket of water out of the hive so that there is no mold in the hive. With this humid winter, that was impossible to do. So, smaller colonies that were 'winterized' all died."

Climate change is also affecting bee mortality. Dramatic declines in biodiversity have reduced populations of mosquitoes, flies and other insects by three-quarters since the 1950s. "And so have bees. This is partly due to the disappearance of flowery meadows," Schalk knows.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Lots of bee mortality happens because the bees aren’t kept in hives that allow them to properly overwinter. The standard Langstroth hive is too small and the 3/4 inch boards don’t provide the insulation that bees need. Horizontal hives are much better for the bees, if built with boards that are 1 1/2 inches thick and the deeper frames let the bees store more honey that gets them through the winter. There’s a book called Keeping Bees with a Smile, for anyone interested. Lots of old studies referenced in there from beekeeping in the 1900’s when hives weren’t moved like today, much like any industry that gets commercialized, the animals suffer needlessly.
There's apparently a mite that spreads a disease that affects bee's. Varroa mite attacks the drone (male) bee's then the virus spreads through the hive. The bee hives have to be sprayed for it. There's currently an outbreak in Australia with attempts to eradicate it.
Thanks @eightyfour for signaling us about the Australian situation. We don't get much info from that far usually. Varroa mite related diseases have been mentioned every now and again in this thread. It's a nasty critter that can do a lot of damage when detected too late. Hope there's still damage limitation possible in Australia now. Keep us posted, please. :cool2:
Thanks @eightyfour for signaling us about the Australian situation. We don't get much info from that far usually. Varroa mite related diseases have been mentioned every now and again in this thread. It's a nasty critter that can do a lot of damage when detected too late. Hope there's still damage limitation possible in Australia now. Keep us posted, please. :cool2:
The worst thing is theirs people against the attempts to eradicate it saying its inhumane to destroy hives. They aren't native bees they are introduced bees but they are important. We won't starve without bee's but grain and meat alone would get bit boring after a while.
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